WHAT IT IS: Once there were wikis, Web pages that almost any reader could contribute to, add to and edit. And users interested in creating their own content were intrigued. Then along came the extended family like TiddlyWiki, Instiki, SeedWiki and now PBWiki. And then users were just confused. But that’s exactly where PBWiki comes in. It is named for its ease of use -- creating a wiki is as easy as making a peanut-butter sandwich. The big difference is that editorial changes are password-protected by default, so users need a page password to change or edit the document. (Anyone can read the pages.)
WHO’S USING IT: Teachers and students sharing notes, co-workers jamming on shared projects, friends sharing lists, notes and recipes and individuals jotting ideas for themselves to tap on the go. So far, more than 42,000 PBWikis have been created.
WHO’S BEHIND IT: Three Stanford grads in their 20s with wacky creative cred ranging from host and creator of all-night developer party hackathons (at his own house, no less), blog owner of WillTeachYou-HowToBeRich.com, and creator of geek hit T-shirt “You have died of dysentery” (refers to old Oregon Trail computer game -- yes, that geeky). No doubt smarter than your average entrepreneurs trying to make money on Web 2.0.
HOW DO THEY MAKE MONEY? There is a free version (and you can create as many as you like, as long as you don’t abuse the system), but also a premium one with better bells and whistles at a cost of $5 per month.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE: Besides being a useful personal tool for collaborating -- and creative types always (pretend to) love that -- the collective idea of wikis is evolving. Instead of the free-for-all, easily editable (but also spamable) wiki Web sites of the past, real organized and collaborative thought is finding a semi-public home on the Web through these kinds of tools. Wouldn’t it be great to be part of those conversations?